Kyrgyz special forces move to detain former president

Source:Xinhua-AFP Published: 2019/8/8 22:28:40

The special forces of Kyrgyzstan's State Committee for National Security carried out an operation to detain the country's former president Almazbek Atambayev, the official Kabar news agency reported Wednesday.

"The soldiers were equipped only with rubber bullets. Currently, the detention operation continues," Kabar said, citing the committee's press service.

The special forces attempted to storm Atambayev's residence in the village of Koi-Tash near the capital of Bishkek, using flashbang grenades and rubber bullets, but they were resisted by about 200 supporters of the former leader, Sputnik news agency said.

The supporters armed with sticks and stones were preparing for another assault of the special forces who are receiving reinforcements, eyewitnesses told Sputnik.

An AFP correspondent saw some supporters forcibly disarm and beat special forces officers whom they then took hostage.

The health ministry said a special forces officer had died from a gunshot wound and the head of the Chui Province police department was in a critical condition after being concussed during the clashes. 

The ministry said 52 people had been injured in the clashes, around half of whom were law enforcers. 

Kyrgyz President Sooronbai Jeenbekov suspended his one-week vacation and went to Bishkek on Wednesday, according to a statement published on the presidential website.

A special commission of the Kyrgyz parliament found that Atambayev, 62, could be involved in six crimes during his presidency from December 2011 to November 2017.

The charges included the suspected corruption during the reconstruction of Bishkek's thermal power station, the unlawful obtaining of land for building his residential house, and helping release Chenchen criminal Aziz Batukayev.

The Kyrgyz parliament voted on June 27 to deprive Atambayev's immunity, paving the way for his detention and trial.

Atambayev called the allegations "absurd" and said that he was clean and ready to answer all the accusations. 

Early Thursday Jeenbekov convened a meeting of the state security council, after talks between Atambayev's representatives and the interior minister broke down. 

Jeenbekov said during the meeting that Atambayev had "rudely flouted the Constitution and laws of the Kyrgyz Republic" by resisting detention. 

Parliament also called an emergency session.

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